Sunday, December 7, 2008

uncle, mercy, whatever, I can't take it!

So I haven't blogged much over the last few weeks. It is no coincidence that in the last few weeks the temperature outside has dropped and we have officially entered winter.

It's cold.

And not just outside.

This year in order to do a little better for the Riot (last year we did 50% of average for Natural gas) we decided to keep the heat in house a little lower than last year. By 2 degrees C.

Now this gets a bit complicated in our house because we share the heating system (forced air natural gas high efficiency furnace) with the downstairs apartment.

The only thermostat for the heating system is in their unit. Now this is really for the best. Of the two apartments it is a way better scenario for our apartment to be the colder one.

I know what you are thinking...that doesn't make sense, doesn't heat rise? So shouldn't our apartment be the warmer one? Well the thing is that the two apartments are completely separate so the heat can't 'rise' to our apartment. Also the air from the furnace takes longer to get to our apartment (and isn't as strong up here as downstairs). What this means for us is that we are usually 1 to 2 degrees colder than downstairs. So while we've set the thermostat at 18 degrees during the day and evening (because we have super-great green tenants), in our apartment we have not gone above 17 degrees in weeks. Often we are at 16 degrees.

16 and 17 I can handle. I don't love it but I can deal.

But I think our tenants have been doing a lot of baking lately. The positive side of this is that our apartment is often full of the smells of baked bread and cupcakes. The downside of this is that the heat from their oven helps to heat up their apartment. Which means the thermostat reaches 18 degrees more quickly. And when it reaches 18 degrees in their apartment, the heat.kicks.off.

As a result....


This is the temperature it has been in our apartment for the last 2 days.

15 is really cold folks. I know there are people who are freezing their buns and are at 15 (and colder) but we all have our breaking points and apparently 15 is mine. The thing about 15 (and to some extent even 16 and 17) is that my motivation to do anything other than huddle under a blanket on the couch is nil. This means my stack of unread books remain unread (hands outside of blankets in order to hold a book? no way!!), my Christmas present projects are way behind and in general I have the winter blues. And its barely December! Winter's only just begun.

So I think I'm going to borrow the portable electric heater from my Mum and Dad's. Hey M&D, can I borrow your electric heater?

The more I think about it, this sort of dual heating really makes sense. Using a very efficient gas furnace to get to a minimum temperature and then using localized heating to heat up the room you are in (and not heat up the rooms you are not), seems like a pretty efficient way to go.

I'm sure I'll be grouchy when I see my electricity bill go higher than last winter but I think the trade off of a drastically reduced natural gas bill will be worth it.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Been thinking

I've been coming out of the green closet so to speak lately at work. Being more outspoken about my green efforts and getting more active (am now co-leading a greening IT group!). All this is kind of exciting and scary. Exciting because I've been getting a lot of really positive feedback and scary because I'm sure it won't all be positive. And so I'm going to have to work on what I'm least good at...debating. Being able to articulate why I feel so strongly about the 'lighter living lifestyle', and not disengaging if I am met with strong views that are counter to mine.

And so, what I've been thinking about lately is how to use video in that debate. I find that video is a great medium because it can be inspiring and thought provoking and also perhaps less confrontational (depending on how its done). I'm hoping to explore the use of video (at work mostly) to promote 'lighter living'.

Along those lines, here are some videos I'm digging today....


Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo

Andy Hobsbawm on TED
(don't know why it's displaying like that with player 7 and player 8, click on either one and click on play and it should work)

Monday, November 17, 2008

No more paper towels

Inspired by Peak Oil Hausfrau's Zero Waste Kit that I found thanks to Unstuffed, I thought I'd make myself a hand towel to carry around.


My embroidery leaves something to be desired to be sure (but practice makes perfect right?). The towel itself is made from an old t-shirt.

Now I just have to remember to carry it to the bathroom and kitchen at work. In the meantime I apologize to my co-workers who have to grab wet door handles because I left my towel at my desk!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Some presents from me to me

Treated myself to some 'new to me' stuff over the last week....


I haven't bought a pair of shoes since Jan. 2006 so this is a big treat! Aren't they cute? Got these babies at Clothes Secret (consignment shop on Bank St.). Now I don't have to wear my brown diesel sneakers that are falling apart and have developed a squeaking noise in the left shoe to work anymore. Woot!


And I got this stack of books at the Rockcliffe Park School book fair. Had to go back twice because I wanted more books than I could carry. This book fair is a three day affair that happens annually and should not be missed. All the books are donated and all the profits go to the school. The most expensive book I got was $4 but most were in the $1-$2 range. Some were only $.25! The books in the pick are only a subset - I have another stack that will be Christmas presents. :)

And my favourite thing....

Mybrightredrotaryphone. Courtesy of Found Design. I love it. And it's ring. DRING...DRING!

Sunday, November 9, 2008

more baby crochet!

Seems I'm at that age where everyone around me is having babies! :)

Went to a baby shower yesterday and as well as a stack of books and some super cute onesies that I got at a consignment shop, I also gave the Mom to be this baby toque (the little one will be arriving in Jan when it's -30 here!):


I used this pattern as a guide but had to rework it quite a bit for a 0-3 mo baby as opposed to a 3-6 mo baby. Here's my final pattern:

Hook size=4.5
Yarn=cotton, weight - not sure, I think worsted (US), double knitting (UK)

R1 - Make an adjustable ring (OMG - first time trying the adjustable ring - learn how to do it here). Chain 2, 15 DC in ring. SS in first DC
R2 - ch1, SC around. SS in first SC (15)
R3 - ch2, 2DC in every stitch around. SS in first DC (30)
R4 - ch1, SC around. SS in first SC (30)
R5 - ch2, * 3 DC, 2DC in 4th stitch, repeat from * around. SS in first DC (38)
R6 - ch1, SC around. SS in the first SC (38)
R7 - ch2, DC around. SS in the first DC (38)
Repeat Rows 6 and 7 until you have 11 completed rows.

The brim:
ch8
R1: Single crochet through both loops (7)
R2-38: Single crochet through back loops only (7)

SC the brim to the hat.

Make a pom pom. (the cardboard circles that I used were 4cm in diameter)

Weave in the ends.

**confession - I normally only use second hand yarn but when I was at the yarn shop buying a crochet hook (needed a new size - I tried to get one second hand - honest!), they had a bag of odds and ends that included a lot of really cute cottons including this pink so I got it.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Thanks!


Last week my fav blogger gave me a super cool award! Was smiling all day about that so thanks Unstuffed! :)

It seems the way it works is that one passes the love around. Trouble is Unstuffed already mentioned my fav ottawa blogs. And most of the other blogs I peruse are in my right nav.

So instead of giving you green blogs, I'm going to give you craft blogs! These blogs constantly get my creative juices flowing and hopefully they will for you too. Handmade gifts beat out high carbon cost, plastic heavy gifts from half way around the world any day of the week. Especially if they are made with second hand materials! :)

Enjoy!
  1. Purl Bee. Blog from the the folks at Purl (super amazing yarn store in SoHo NY). Free freakin' patterns folks! Knitting, crochet, embroidery, patchwork. Tutorials too. You name it that have it. With beautiful pictures to boot.

  2. Melanie Falick Books. Publisher of stunning craft books. The pics on this blog alone will make you want to start making stuff. Like now.

  3. Inchmark. Queen of the colour wheel and colour chart, Inchmark's posts are not only beautiful, they'll make you want to do things you'd never have thought about. Like collect envelope security patterns or candy wrappers. :) She's also a Mum and does lots of posting about cool kids stuff (like the awesome costumes she made her kids for halloween!).


Ok, turns out while I could easily come up with a list of 5 craft blogs - just google 'craft blogs' and you will be overwhelmed, I don't want to include blogs I don't go to on a regular basis. So to round out the 5, here are two non-craft blogs that I like a lot:

  1. Arduous. Thoughtful, heartfelt and always challengicious. :)

  2. The Spectrum. Also known as Crunchy Chicken's cousin, this blogger makes me laugh out loud on a regular basis. She also makes me cry. She puts it all out there and I admire that. Her blog posts even though often pages long, are never long enough!

Monday, November 3, 2008

How to collect grey water (and flush your toilet with it)

As I mentioned in my recent water bill post, I have started collecting my shower greywater and am using it to flush the toilet.

Here's how I do it:

1. Collect the shower warm up water


2. Dump the shower warm up water in a bucket


* At this point you can do one of two things:
  1. leave it at that and only use this water - doing this means that you can put the water directly in your toilet tank as follows: next time you flush the toilet, empty this water in the tank as it is filling. I don't do this because it sounds like it takes a lot of coordination, plus I only collect 1.5 litres of warm-up water per shower. Or

  2. you can keep going and collect the grey water too:


3. Put the plug in the shower to stop the water draining out

4. Shower. Navy style.

5. Collect the soapy shower water. Yes. That's my shower water. What, you thought I'd waster a shower's worth of water for this demo? :-) Don't be grossed out - its only soapy water.


6. Dump this water in the bucket along with the other water

Now you have your water collected, here's how you use it...unlike the shower warm up water, it is not recommended that you put grey water in your toilet tank. The soapy residue can gum up the working parts. Also if you have a fancy toilet, you know, like a dual flush one, you might have a warranty which would probably get voided if you put soapy water in the tank. So what do you do?

It's the easiest thing ever.

You won't believe it.

If you pour the greywater, from the bucket, directly into the toilet bowl, the toilet will.....flush. For reals folks. Takes more water than the toilet would normally use to flush (at least half the bucket) however the net effect is zero as this water would have gone down the drain anyway in the shower.

So there you have it - the totally low tech, no cost way to recycle some of your greywater.

If you are more of a fan of high tech, this system, sounds interesting (bonus - its a Canadian company - based in Montreal). It uses chlorine though.

And here's another low tech option for capturing greywater.

You can also use greywater to irrigate your garden. Check out the water purification/irrigation system in Earthships.

Oh and one last thing. If you are going to capture your greywater and don't plan on treating it (like with the bucket method), you should use the water within a day. After that, the water can grow bacteria and will generally be unhealthy to have around. If you haven't used it within a day, it's probably best to dump it out.

Friday, October 31, 2008

I'm grateful

Walked all the way home tonight (takes me 1.5hrs). Haven't done that in ages. Is one of the reasons why our gasoline consumption is up to 25% or so. Was so nice. And all of a sudden I just felt really grateful. So I spent some time as I was walking to think about the things that I was grateful for. Here they are in no particular order:

  • mild fall evenings where the air is crisp and the sky is blue

  • bumping into friends that I haven't seen in ages

  • shortcuts

  • the stranger that walked up to me and said "you have such a beautiful smile". Even though I wasn't smiling. And made me smile

  • good music!

  • brand new babies (we have one arriving in our extended friend family any time now. Perhaps as I type this. Can't wait to meet you little man. :) )

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Holy crap!

Well for all those wondering if doing the Riot for Austerity is saving us any money, take a look at this:



That's our most recent water bill. Yep, that's right, its a CREDIT.

If you look at the amount of water we have used in the last two bills (one estimate, one actual), we are at 39 cubic metres in 124 days. For some of those days there were 3 of us in the house and for some of those days there were 4 of us in the house, but I think a safe estimate is that we are now at 85 litres of water per person per day. This is v. exciting as we are now at 25% of the average! Pretty good considering a year or so ago we were at 78% of the average.



What I've done recently as well as the navy shower thing and the 'letting it mellow' thing include:
  • installed a 6L flush toilet in the downstairs apartment

  • installed low flow showerheads (1.25 gallons/minute) in both apartments

  • installed low flow aerators (2.0 gallons/min) on the kitchen and bathroom taps in both apartments

  • started capturing my shower water and using it to flush the toilet (more on that in another post

  • got super new uber green tenants in our rental apartment :)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Why the Riot?

Last week there was a feature article in the NY Times about a number of people who are making huge strides in reducing their carbon footprint. One of those people featured was Sharon Astyk (one of the founders of Riot for Austerity). The NY Times interviewed Sharon and even went to Sharon's home to take pictures. Sharon and everyone who knew the article was coming was excited at the opportunity to reach a large audience with the lighter living message.

Unfortunately the NY Times wrote a crap article which practically accused Sharon of child abuse for making her children live in a house where the heat isn't cranked.

Today Sharon wrote an absolutely kick ass response on her blog.

You should read it.

It sums up everything I think about why living more lightly is important.

If you never click on another link I post, you should click on this one.

And in case anyone's interested, here is the NY Times article.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Check me out!

I made bread! :)

After being completely intimidated by the bread making process for ages, I decided to give it a go yesterday.

I used a recipe from my The Place Below cookbook. I substituted 1/2 of the flour with local spelt flour.

Was actually quite easy (except for the kneading which was hard yet cathartic). Next time I'm going to try making it from all local flour. And perhaps a sourdough starter instead of yeast. If I do that I'll try No impact man's adaptation of Sandor Katz's sourdough bread.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Dried apples two ways

I love apples and while they are available almost year round at the Ottawa Organic Farmers' market, by January they are no longer so great for eating raw (but still great for baking!)

So last year I tried drying apples for the first time. Not having any fancy equipment I just cut them into rings and strung them up on cooking string. They turned out great.


This year I wanted to make more so I used a friend's dehydrator (as there are only so many places to string up apples around one's house!) as well as the string method.



The dehydrator ones turned out well and certainly took less time. But I think I still prefer the apples dried on strings from the 'no energy required' point of view.

Dehydrator apples: 1 day

Apples on string: 3-4 days

A lot of recipes call for using a vit. c or equivalent solution to dip your apple rings into before drying. I tried that last year and it was a huge hassle. Plus it didn't really reduce the browning (the whole point) so I didn't bother this year. I don't think my apples look any more brown than the ones at the stores.

I bought 64 organic apples at the farmers market for $16 and I'll probably end up with 5 or 6 1L jars of dried apples.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Why I choose to buy free range organic eggs from small scale local producers

Recently there was a charity breakfast at work and when asked if I was going, I responded that I wasn't going because I'm 'fussy about the eggs I eat'.

Today that same colleague asked me to explain what I meant by that. I wasn't expecting the question and so didn't give a very good answer. Mostly I rambled on about how I only buy eggs from people I know and that even organic free range eggs at the grocery store are not to be trusted.

After some reflection and with a desire to sound slightly less paranoid (!) next time I explain this, I thought I'd jot down my reasons here.

So. My reasons for choosing local organic free range eggs are threefold in the following priority:

1. Ethical
2. Environmental
3. Personal health



While it would be wonderful if all our eggs came from happy free to run around chickens like the above pic, the truth is that 90+% of the eggs in Canada are produced under the most horrendously cruel conditions. Do a quick google search and you will find videos and photos of birds crammed in cages, debeaked so they don't kill each other, covered in crap from the birds in cages above them, starved of food for weeks at a time to force an increase in productivity etc. etc. etc.

It's really awful. The worst part is that this is all legal. Unlike puppy mills and other places you see animals rescued from, these conditions (from what I understand) would actually pass inspection.

This is starting to change. Not yet in Canada but factory farmed egg production is already banned in switzerland and will be outlawed in the EU by 2012.

Fyi, the new name for factory farming is 'confined animal-feeding operations' or CAFO for short. I find this interesting because from what I can tell, this new name was devised by the industry itself, I can only imagine as being more polictically correct than factory farm. For me it does the opposite. It reminds me that these are not 'farms' in any sense. They are production lines.

Ok, next reason...environmental concerns. From what I've read here, here and here, the negative environmental effects of CAFO's are mostly as a result of the huge amount of waste produced. On a small scale farm where chickens are really allowed to roam free, the waste is actually useful; fertilizing pastures (often where free range cows roam). But at large scale factory farms, the amount of waste produced is far too great and often ends up contaminating ground water. In addition to the contamination from poop bacteria, because the chickens need regular and strong doses of antibiotics just to survive in such an environment, these chemicals too end up in the ground water via the waste produced by the chickens.

Gross huh?

And I won't even get into the electricity required to run the machinery and lights in the giant barns or the amount of gasoline used to truck the eggs from the factory farms to the grocery store distribution point and then to the store itself.

Last reason. Personal health. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to know that an egg produced from a chicken that lives in disease filled conditions and pumped full of chemicals, and nasty food, will not be as nutritious, or as good for one's health as an egg produced from a chicken allowed to roam free, eating a varied diet, and lived disease free without the use of chemicals. I'm sure the CFIA would say that there is no evidence to show this but well, you'll have to excuse me being paranoid on that one.

So I get my eggs from two local suppliers that I know and trust. I know the chickens that lay my eggs are happy and healthy and spend lots of time running around outside.

And I don't go out for breakfast anymore. And I try not to buy baked goods made with eggs from factory farms (my goal is to phase this out completely - it's a process).

And I feel good about that personal choice.

(I realize that I didn't get into the organic vs. factory farmed eggs vs. grocery store free-range etc. eggs. Personally I'm skeptical of anything industrial scaled. But if I had to pick I would chose eggs in this order:
1. Local, organic, free range eggs
2. Local eggs (provided I knew the farmer and how the chickens were treated)
3. Industrial scaled organic eggs
4. No eggs
5. Factory farmed eggs

Also, for a tongue in cheek education in factory farms, check out The Meatrix

Lastly if you want to know where you can get local organic eggs in the ottawa area, try the COG-Ottawa Listing. Also check at farmers markets and ask your friends. But keep in mind that a lot of small scale egg production is on the down low due to various rules and regulations that I won't pretend to understand.)

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Thanksgiving activities

In between my constant snacking before dinner, I wandered down the garden to rescue the black walnuts that my brother and Dad had been using to practice their golf swings.

Here's what they look like after being removed from their fleshy green casings. After my brother told me that the last time he did this his hands were black for a week, I chose to wear gloves during that process.



What I do with them now I'm not sure....my edition of 'Stocking up' has a photo of a car driving over them in a purpose-made wooden trough. Don't think I want to try that so I'm going to let them dry out for a few days and then try cracking them open with a hammer.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

For Matteo


This blanket was easy and fun to make. I used the yarn that was freecycled to me and this pattern from Project Linus. Project Linus is a not for profit organization that accepts donated handmade blankets for seriously ill children. I just found the website for Project Linus Canada so I'll be making a blanket for them in return for using their pattern.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

I got the message

You know how you often have to hear a message quite a few times before you get it?

Well yesterday I got it.

I first heard the message from my Naturopath:

Naturopath: Rachel, your health is very good except your adrenals are really stressed. You need to eat more protein, drink more water and take these pills.

Rachel: water! protein! pills! Okthanksgotitbye!

Then I heard it from my boss:

Boss: Rachel. Take a breath. You need to compartmentalize. If you try to think about everything at once you'll go crazy.

Rachel: Ok! Compartmentalize! That's good! Compartmentalize. I can do that! I just have to do this thing, send this email and then I'll make a plan for doing that compartmentalize thing.

And then I read this post from Unstuffed, and I had the word 'mindful' stuck in my head all day

And THEN I found this post on Lehman's Country Life

And that's when it hit me.

While I've been rushing around like a freakin' chicken without a head trying to get the canning, housework, work, etc. done and not really managing to get anything at all done, other people have been getting it done and have been doing it mindfully, carefully, and peacefully.

When I read the above post it was just such a contrast to my canning efforts, which usually go like this:
-Ok, chopping food, this is cool, I love local food
-Oh man, I am so tired of chopping food
-Ugghh, my back hurts, why didn't I put shoes on? I'm too old to be standing in the kitchen for hours without shoes
-Dang it, I forgot to take those books back to the library again
-Tomorrow when I get to work I really have to make sure I send off those emails
-Shit! The water in the canner is boiling and the food isn't even ready. Damn it, that is such a waste of energy

...and on and on.....

I was just totally missing the point.

So last night I made peach butter (with the help of hubby) and really tried to focus on that one thing and keep all the other thoughts out. And this time in between dropping the peaches in boiling water and then cold water and carefully pulling off the peel, I took the time to be grateful for how easy they were to peel this year and that there were only a handful of bruises I had to cut off even though I bought them for cheap as "seconds". And I also took the time to admire how pretty the bowl full of peaches looked, all bright orange from their 30 seconds in the boiling water and still with a pink blush.

While the peach butter was cooking down I chose to do small jobs, one at a time that were easy to complete. And while I was doing them, I wasn't thinking about all the other things I needed to do. I was only thinking about the one thing I was doing in that moment.

And when it was all done, I didn't feel nearly as exhausted as I have after previous canning efforts. Even though it was midnight, and even though I only ended up with 1.5L of peach butter from 7L of peaches (that stuff cooks down!), and even though one jar didn't seal, I still felt grateful that I'd just learned how to make fruit butter. And on top of all that, I think I probably accomplished more than I would in my previous running around like a chicken way.

I feel kind of silly that its taken me this long to figure this all out.

But I think part of me thought that this whole mindful deliberateness would come automatically from living more lightly. I'd spent a year reading no impact man explain in wonderful detail how his life is so much richer and of all the time he spends with his daughter. I thought, ok, that sounds wonderful, so I'll just unplug my fridge and life will slow down! Cool!

But the whole zoom zoom lifestyle is more heavily ingrained in me than that. And I don't think that just 'getting it' is going to be enough. I'm going to have to be mindful about being mindful.

I think I'm going to make some tea and think about that for a while.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Damsons



Damsons are tiny, quite sour plums. Raw they are, I would guess, inedible. But cooked they are gorgeous. They aren't terribly popular this side of the Altantic which means you can usually get them quite cheaply. I scored a 7 litre basket at the market today for $10.

With this I made:
-damson jam
-honeyed whole damsons
-damson juice
-a damson crisp for dessert
-and something that will remain a mystery for now as it will be in the christmas stockings of all my family members :-)

I used this recipe for the jam. It tastes heavenly but it didn't set very well. This is due to me not being very good at testing jam and has nothing to do with the recipe. The only changes I made to the recipe were to sterilize the jars in boiling water for 10 mins instead of in the oven, and I water bath processed the filled jars for 10 mins to seal.

For the honeyed damsons I made a syrup of 2.25 cups mild tasting honey and 4 cups water, then I pricked the damsons a few times each and dropped them into the boiling syrup. After a few mins I packed them into jars and processed in a water bath for 20 mins.

After packing the damsons into jars, I was left with a lot of extra syrup (which at this point was honeyed plum juice), so I canned that too for 20 mins.

For the damson crisp, I took the damsons which weren't perfect enough for canning, put them in a dish and sprinkled them with a generous amount of sugar and then a bit of flour. Then I covered them with a mix of rolled oats, oat bran, spelt flour, safflower oil, maple syrup and a bit of brown sugar. This turned out so well I took some down to our tenants (and got some carrot soup in return!).

Once the damsons were dealt with I moved on to my next task. Branston Pickle. I love this stuff. It is basically pickled veg with dates, and sugar and vinegar. Sounds weird but is great with cheese and is the classic accompaniment to a ploughman's lunch. The official recipe is no doubt copyrighted but I found this recipe online. The colour is not as dark as true Branston and I could have made it darker with colouring but it just didn't make sense to take a natural, local veg pickle and add chemicals to it. Besides its how it tastes that counts and it really does taste like Branston!

Here are the results of a long day in front of the stove:

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Complacency

Here's the latest on our electricity usage:


Factoring in the slight blip in April when we got a new meter and our usage was recorded twice, you'll see that after a steady decline since we started the Riot, on our last bill our electricity use increased.

Aug-Oct 07: 7.6 KWh/day
Oct-Dec 07: 6.1 kWh/day
Dec-Feb 08: 5.8 kWh/day
Feb-Apr 08: 4.7 kWh/day
Apr-June 08: 4.1 kWh/day
June-Aug 08: 4.5 kWh/day

Time to step it up.

Things we started doing this week to save more energy:
  • Unplugging the tv, dvd, and all computer related stuff (modem, pc, printer etc.) when not in use. Yeah, I know, this is totally a no brainer. We were just lazy.

  • Unplugging the microwave when not in use. We were procrastinating on this because the plug is behind the fridge (I want that thing out of my kitchen but it doesn't fit through the door. Sigh). So, we put an extension cord behind the fridge and now it is easy to unplug the microwave.

Things we need to do:
  • Watch less tv. Am in negotiations with hubby.

Things we were already doing:
  • hang our clothes to dry year round

  • only run the dishwasher and washing machine when full

  • unplugged our fridge

  • keep our electric heat (only in our bedroom) at 55 degrees (12.8 Celsius)

  • get our electricity from Bullfrog Power (they only use low impact hydro and wind power - no nuclear or coal)

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Sandor Katz - aka Sandorkraut

Went to an awesome workshop last night put on by Just Food. The subject was fermentation and the instructor was none other than the fermentation guru himself - Sandor Katz (author of 'Wild Fermentation' and 'The Revolution will not be microwaved').

I've been wanting to make fermented veggies for a while but was a bit intimidated. Sandor totally demystified the whole process. It's so easy. Veggies, salt, container, done! You can even make fermented veggies in jars if you don't have a crock or want to make a large amount. All you have to do is release the pressure in the jars by taking the lid off every day (at least for the first 2 weeks). This is quite important or you might end up with exploded jars of grated veggies all over your kitchen.

Fermented food is great because it is full of vitamins, minerals and friendly bacteria (think probiotics). It's also great because fermented food does not have to be refrigerated.

But did I mention how easy it is?

Some things are so easy to make it's silly. Like apple cider vinegar for example. All you have to do is take some unpasteurized apple cider (local and organic if possible) and leave it out on the counter in a bottle with no lid (covered with a cheesecloth) for about 3 weeks. After about 3 days to one week you'll have a mildly alcoholic cider with varying degrees of sweetness. After a week it starts to turn into vinegar and by 3 weeks it is done. I'm really looking forward to giving this a try.

I also have a confession to make. While I haven't been as good as my friend Unstuffed about not buying anything new, I really haven't bought much other than essential stuff for the house and some sewing needles. But like Unstuffed, I couldn't resist a book sold by the author. So I treated myself to a signed copy of 'Wild Fermentation'. And now I can't wait to get started.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

How to not can tomatoes

If you want an unsuccessful batch of canned tomatoes, do what I did and follow all the directions to the letter and then don't put enough water in the canner because you think it is going to bubble over. This will ensure your jars don't seal properly and you will have spent all day canning for naught. Nice job.

I started out doing it all just as Ferdzy over at Seasonal Ontario Food said. I even got the bottled lemon juice (which I didn't want to do because of the plastic, but you HAVE to do as it's the only way to ensure you have an even acidity level). I peeled and chopped the tomatoes, sterilized jars, and boiled the tomato filled 1L jars for 45 min for each batch (I had 2 batches). But when I put them in the water I was reluctant to have the water right up to the rim of the canner so I probably ended up with only 3/4 of an inch of water over the jars instead of 1 inch. And by the end of the 45 mins there was probably only .2 of an inch over the jars.



And dang it if 4 of the 11 jars didn't seal (I put those 4L promptly in the freezer). AND on top of that, of the remaining sealed jars, most are questionable (I think). Here's what I'm worried about - see the one on the left? How its floating and the tomatoes are all sucked up to the top? That's what I think it should look like (all my salsa jars look like that). To me that really means they are sealed up properly. See the one on the right? It's floating but the tomatoes aren't all sucked up to the top. And see the one in the middle? It isn't floating at all.

Now technically all of them are sealed like I said. I even tested them by taking off the rings and lifting them by the flat lid part. And the lid stayed on.
So are they all ok to eat?

I might cry if the only one that is safe to eat is the on on the left because there is only one jar like that. Ok, I won't cry. But I will have learned a valuable lesson. The hard way.

If you are thinking of canning tomatoes, I'd recommend following Ferdzy's instructions and also check out the USDA's canning instructions. And definitely, DEFINITELY, fill that canner right to the top!

Monday, September 8, 2008

Re-shirt. A cool idea.

Thought I'd take a short break from the canning posts to highlight this company I just found:

Re-shirt

They collect donated t-shirts, and the stories that go with them and then stamp the shirts with the re-shirt logo and post them for sale with the story.

In their words:

"Re-Shirts represent a unique world-wide economic experiment. At the center of it all are used T-shirts and a question: Do products last longer if you know their history?"

Love it.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A tomato weekend

Well, this is one for the 'never again' file. Starting on Friday I processed over 60lbs of tomatoes. By myself.

This is what 50lbs of tomatoes looks like:

I got these from Peter at Fair Weather Farm (who v. kindly delivered them to me on his rounds to various restaurants in the city). I'm a bit disappointed about the plastic bags but I'll know for next time to ask for boxes.

The other 10lbs (of the 60) I got from Acorn Creek at the Thursday night farmers market at Lansdowne park.

What I have to show for it (other than an aching body) is:

3L of ketchup
3L of salsa
and
11L of chopped tomatoes (4 of those litres didn't seal. boo.)

I'm going to write more about the recipes I used and what I learned, but for now I'm going to put my feet up and eat some non-local chocolate.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

What do you do when..

You walk past a crabapple tree heavy with fruit that no one is picking and is falling to the ground to rot?

You pick every single crabapple you can reach from the branches hanging over the sidewalk (in our case that turned out to be 17lbs worth!!), and you turn them into....


JELLY!

Best buddy and I used this recipe and proceeded to

Wash, cook, smash, and strain (note the improvised jelly bag - yep, that's a pillow case)


our crabapples.

Once we had the juice we boiled it up as per the recipe with the appropriate amount of sugar, jarred it, processed it and were done.

It's delicious and for my first go at jelly making I'm really happy it all set. It's a little too hard set for me (I prefer jelly a little syrupy - this is like jello set). So next time I make it I think I'll boil it for less time.

Got a tree that you think is an edible apple but not sure? Cut the fruit along the equator and look for the 5 seed star formation.

Monday, August 25, 2008

It's a deodorant miracle!


Yes! This is really about deodorant!!

Ok, confession time. I sweat a lot. I know! Too much information! Wait! There's more!

Until recently, I'd tried and failed with just about every conventional deodorant/antiperspirant under the sun. After giving up on antiperspirant a few years ago (never stopped the sweating and left nasty greasy pit marks on my clothes, also aluminum=bad 4 u), I switched to deodorant. I tried all the ones you see in the pic (yes those were all in my medicine cabinet).

Not only did I continue to sweat a lot, it was like whatever scent was in the deodorant (natural or otherwise) somehow turned into the stinkiest of stinks under my pits. It's as if the deodorant was helping my body manufacture stink!

The deodorant that came closest to working was the adidas one you see in the pic. Its the only commercial deodorant on the market for women (and by "commercial" I mean loaded with stuff in the ingredients list you can't pronounce). But even still I'd have to wear an undershirt and often reapply and or even resort to wadding toilet paper into the pits of my clothes to soak up the sweat and the stink.

And then about a month ago, I read a post on Crunchy Chicken's blog. Turns out she is a big time sweater as well! Not only that, she'd found something that worked! What she had found was the deodorant stone. Now I'm not such a fan of this because I tried wiping that slimy stone under my pits in high school when I was working at the health food store and learning how to be all crunchy and granola-y, and it didn't do a darn thing for me. Also some of the comments on Crunchy's blog, from those I highly respect, said that that there was still aluminum in those stones (I know, the companies say its safe but I'm skeptical).

But anyhow, I was still totally psyched for her Crunchiness and was excited with the hope that there might actually be something that works for me.

So I tried something that many of my blogging heros are already doing.

I tried baking soda.

For reals folks.

And let me tell ya, this shit works.

Like oh my god, change my life works.

Not only do I not stink anymore (for days I was constantly asking hubby to smell my pits), I seem to sweat a lot less. Like a LOT less. Maybe even, a normal amount! Or for those that get hung up on the word 'normal', I sweat as much as all the other peeps that don't have to worry about walking around with pit stained clothes!

Woo hoo!

The other bonuses include: you can buy it in bulk, and its not full of chemicals.

The only side effects that I have noticed is that my pits seem a bit dry so I've been washing the bs off at night and applying a bit of olive oil. I know! Food products as beauty products! I'm turning into a salad! Ok, not quite because you wouldn't actually put baking soda on a salad but you know what I mean!

For those wanting to give it a go, here's what you do. When you get out of the shower and your pits are still damp, put a bit of baking soda in the palm of your hand, then slap it on one pit. Repeat with the other pit. You are done! Dry, stink free pits all day.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

I love my neighbourhood

Yeah, it has a bit of a bad reputation (mostly unfounded) but one thing's for sure....nothing goes to waste in this 'hood.

Anything that we haven't been able to freecycle and have put to the curb (and that isn't actual garbage) is almost always gone before the garbage trucks even arrive. And our deck reno was no exception.

I've mentioned the deck reno before and how replacing our falling down, rotting, mushrooms growing out of deck was a bummer as it's screwed our chances of making any reductions in the consumer goods category of the Riot for Austerity. But I was also really stressed about how much waste would be produced. This stress was not eased when I saw the mountain of wood stacked in the back yard after the deck was demo'd.

So I was really happy when one of my neighbours (who I hadn't met before - mental note - I have to work on this), walked up and said he'd take all that old wood. He said his buddy would re-use what he could (apparently a lot of the frame was still in reasonable shape), and he'd use the rest as firewood at his cottage.

As a result there was very little garbage produced by our deck reno.*

*confession - I did sort through the builder's trash and removed all the items that could be recycled. It's a compulsion.

Monday, August 4, 2008

long weekend breakfast

Its a long weekend here so I thought I'd make myself a breakfast treat.



This is the pretty but deconstructed version. For true deliciousness you need to unfold the crepe, sprinkle in that maple sugar (from Springdale Farm), add some blueberries (from Ferme la Rosée), roll it up and sprinkle some more maple sugar on top. Then eat ensuring that each bite has a bit of crepe, sugar and blueberry.

Here's the recipe:

150g spelt flour (whole grain - I wasn't sure that would work but it really did!)
300ml milk
1 egg
(plus lots of butter for the frying pan)

-mix all ingredients together (the batter will be v. runny)
-add a ladle full to a v. hot frying pan and swirl around until you have a thin even coating of batter at the bottom of the pan).
-wait a few minutes, flip, wait a minute or so, and its done.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

how to freeze peas

Got a nice surprise at the farmers' market today - peas!

Thought I'd missed the season as I couldn't find a farm to buy peas from in quantity and then I got busy yada, yada, yada. Anyway, my favourite farmer had a huge tub of peas at the market today so I snagged a big bag full. Then came home and got to work processing them.

Here's how it works.

1. Find a comfy spot to shell the peas



2. Shell the peas.

3. Admire the shelled peas (and maybe sink your hand into the bowl just because)

3. Get a bowl of ice water ready and also a pot of boiling water and start blanching - 45secs to 1min in the boiling water and then immediately into the ice water (I keep the peas in a sieve in the ice water because I heard something about not letting the ice touch the peas, but maybe I'm making that up. I keep the peas in a sieve in the boiling water because its easier to get them in and out).



4. Lay all the peas out on trays covered in dish towels and dry them gently.



5. Lift the peas off the trays, line the trays with wax paper, and put the peas back on the trays (without the dish towels).

6. Put the trays in the freezer. The next day put the peas into yogurt containers or ziplock bags or other freezer safe container.

7. In january pull some peas out of the freezer and enjoy the summery goodness

Friday, July 25, 2008

No tasty treats for me. boo.

Just felt like telling anyone who is listening that instead of going to the caf and getting a chocolate bar or an iced cappucino (things that I want even though they are bad for me and the world - including the orangutans), I am going to sit at my desk and drink the juice that I brought into work in a mason jar.

Hurrumph.

(I'll feel good about this decision later. But now I'm just grumpy.)

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

my nanna and butterflies


My nanna was among other things, an amazing seamstress. She made my mum's wedding dress and my aunt's wedding dress and for a time, most of her own clothes.

This weekend my aunt came for a visit and presented me with this box of my nanna's thread. Isn't it gorgeous? There is some silk thread in there and some of it is even on wooden spools. My favourite is the lime green one.

Now I can start making some stuff with all the fabric I got from usedottawa last summer. :) My first project is going to be a top to wear at a cottage/around the house (takes a bit of pressure off as it won't have to be perfect!) I'm hoping it looks something like this (except more flow-y at the bottom).

An on an unrelated note, we saw our first butterfly in the garden this weekend. I figure the garden must be in good shape if we are attracting butterflies.

See how pretty.....

Sunday, July 20, 2008

more jam




Last weekend my mum and I made a batch of raspberry redcurrant jam using a recipe from Seasonal Ontario Food. I liked it so much I decided to make another batch this weekend.

Ferdzy over at SOF has some great canning recipes so even if raspberry redcurrant jam is not your thing, you should go and have a look at her blog. Let me tell ya though, you might want to give this jam a try. I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it is the best jam I've ever had.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Free transit

Impossible you say? Crazy?

Well Hamilton city council was discussing just that last week.

The short version is that HCC received a recommendation from its Works Committee outlining ways the city could introduce free transit. On smog days only, in the summer only, or year-round all-the-time free transit.

The year-round all-the-time free transit would come at a cost to residents of, on average, $161 a year (included in property taxes).

At first I thought, everyone is going to have to pay for something that not everyone uses? No way is that going to fly.

But then I thought, wait a sec, the point of taxes is to provide services that are for the general good of society - free health care, free social services, free education. I would certainly argue that free transit should fall under that category. Offering free public transit would make taking the bus more palatable to those who aren't so keen, and would also mean that folks who aren't making a lot of money would be able to get to work and still have money for food, and if transit were free prompting more people to take the bus (figures show that there would be a 20% increase in ridership), then carbon emissions would be reduced a substantial amount.

I think its something worth talking about.

Unfortunately Hamilton decided that it didn't have time to implement it this year but would look into it for next year. Boo.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Mini harvest


My first harvest from the garden!

Fennel tops
Raspberries
Green beans
Gooseberries and
Spearmint

Am cooking the gooseberries up now with a bit of maple sugar. There weren't really enough to do anything with so I think I'll add them to some thickened yogurt.

If I had more I would have made this.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

2008 Strawberries!

Spent a lot of today making jam with a friend. Was a lot of fun, we ate a lot of jam off giant wooden spoons and ended up with 5 batches of jam.

The first and second batches were made with certo pectin. The recipe called for 7 cups sugar to approx. 4 cups crushed berries. These batches turned out great but were sooooo sweet.

For the next batches we switched to Pomona's natural pectin. We used 2 cups sugar with the first batch and only 1 cup of sugar with the next two batches. They taste amazing.

But then I called my mum who told me that there likely isn't enough sugar in those batches to stop them from going mouldy.

:-(

Jam anyone?

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Mmmmm muffins

Somewhere along the way in my experiment with the Riot, it became impossible for me to only use the oven for one thing. I can't bear to see that second rack with nothing on it.

So I've taken to making muffins. Since I only use the oven about once a week, I can make one batch of muffins at the same time and that will last me until the following week.

I've tried a few recipes and my favourite by far is the below carrot muffin recipe (modified from this original version). I think they are delicious but I'm still trying to have as little sugar as possible so some might not find them sweet enough.




Carrot and cranberry muffins

1 cup spelt flour (from Little Stream Bakery)
1tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
1tsp cinnamon *
1/8 tsp all spice *
1/4 cup dried cranberries sweetened with maple syrup from Upper Canada Cranberries
2 tbsp coconut (think I'll try elminating this next time to make the muffins more local)
2 tbsp oil
4 tbsp apple butter (Filsinger's organic apple orchard - Ayton ON**)
4 tbsp rice syrup (probably could just use 8 tbsp apple butter. I'll try that next time)
1 cup grated carrot from Terre a Terre farm
1 egg (local, organic, free range)

Mix the dry together in one bowl
Mix the wet together in another bowl
Add the wet to the dry (or the other way around) and stir until just mixed (this is the part I always used to get wrong and I'd end up with hockey pucks instead of muffins).

Bake at 375 F for 10-12 mins (until brown on top and a tester inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean).

* I used 1 tsp mixed spice instead of the cinnamon and all spice. Its a mix commonly available in the uk - corriander, cassia, ginger, nutmeg, caraway, cloves. So basically any combination of these spices or cinnamon or all spice would work just fine.

**Ayton, ON is not within 100mi (is 602km from my house according to google maps). A local option would be apple butter from Hall's apple orchard in Brockville. They aren't organic tho'.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Looky looky!


I got a mention in the Otesha Journal! Thanks Otesha! :) I wasn't the only one mentioned either - my pal Unstuffed was awarded blog of the month. And Hit Pay Dirt (another great Ottawa blog and a fav of mine) got a mention as well.

For those who don't know, Otesha is an awesome Ottawa-based not for profit organization. In their words, Otesha "was created to mobilize youth to create local and global change through their daily consumer choices. We believe that there are alternatives to our culture of overconsumption, and that each one of us has opportunities to have positive impacts every single day."

They do educational outreach with high school kids (actually folks of all ages), publish a book and just generally spread the word.

I think they are great.

This is what has been keeping me busy lately



In this bed amongst the flowers there are:

3 climbing lebanese cucumbers (in container)
1 striped zucchini (to the left of the container)
2 gooseberry bushes (although they are rapidly multiplying. They are to the right of the cucs)
raspberries (along the back of the fence)





Over here we have 2 types of beans (french bush beans, and scarlet runners). And more raspberries. Mmmmm, raspberries.





Herb garden. If you look really closely you might see some fennel, some parsley and some chives. If you look closely you'll see oregano. And if you just look, you'll see some mint, some more mint, and oh yeah, some mint.





And this is the new bed. This was filled with flowers last year which I had to squeeze into other parts of the garden because I couldn't bear to just dig them up. This bed contains:
  • 3 types of tomatoes (2 x yellow cherry, 2 x roma, and one brandywine )

  • basil

  • 3 red pepper plants (red knight)

  • peas

  • sugar snap peas

  • more beans - these were a gift - believe they are a different variety of scarlet runner

  • 4 eggplant plants


Oh garden, I love you.


Oh and in case anyone is wondering what happened about the dirt, we ended up ordering 3 cubic yards. And it was plenty. Thank goodness we didn't order the 30 or so yards that we were originally told we'd need.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Still no fridge

Yep, we are a full 8 months into life without a fridge and are happier than ever.

Here are a few extra benefits we learned this weekend:

  1. Its really easy to pack for the cottage when your fridge is a cooler

  2. Silence - the cottage we stayed at had a fridge and after not hearing it for so long, the hum from the fridge seemed extra loud

I get quite a few questions about how we are doing this. The main question is how we keep food cold.

Now that it is no longer cold outside, we make the ice for the cooler that we use instead of a fridge in the small chest freezer we keep in the basement. For the time being we are able to keep the cooler cold with two 2L pop bottles of ice which we change daily.

I'm also often asked if not having a fridge means we have to buy food every day. Thankfully the answer to that is no. We get most of our produce (food that goes in the cooler) from the organic farmers market which I go to once a week. I found that this spring as things got warmer and the house got too warm to store root veggies outside the cooler, I did have to make 1 or 2 extra shopping trips mid week. I'm hoping though that since we have a pretty decent veg garden this year that mid week shopping will be replaced by garden picking. :)

Also we have found that being restricted in the amount of food we can buy means we waste a lot less. We now only buy the amount of food that will fit in the cooler. Which interestingly is about the amount of food that will last us a week.

As the summer goes on I think we'll have to switch to a smaller cooler because I think the demand for ice will be too great. This also should be easier to do once we are feeding ourselves mostly from the garden.

Monday, June 2, 2008

The last of the 2007 strawberries



This deliciousness was a super easy experiment.

Ingredients:
  • 1 apple (local)

  • 1 ish cups of frozen local strawberries

  • 1 cup oats

  • 1/4 cup oat bran

  • handful hazelnuts (chopped)

  • 1/8 cup safflower oil

  • 1/4 ish cup of rice syrup (I'm off sugar and most substitutes at the moment)


  1. Peel and slice the apple and put at the bottom of the baking dish

  2. Cut up strawberries (frozen) and cook in microwave for a few mins

  3. Add berries to dish with apple (will be v. v. juicy)

  4. Drizzle over a little bit of rice syrup

  5. Mix oats, oat bran, hazelnuts, safflower oil, and rice syrup

  6. Add this granola-like mix on top of the fruit and bake at 350 for around 20 mins? (think I did about 10 and then turned the oven off and let it finish cooking with residual heat). Basically cook until bubbling and brown on top.

  7. Eat.


The cool part was that the oat bran soaked up all the strawberry juice so once it cooled I could slice it up like a granola bar.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Free stuff!


Yesterday a rep from Capital Environmental stopped by the house. He told me about the TAPS Program which encourages water conservation and is sponsored by Enbridge Gas. Basically they are providing (per house/apartment) a:
  • showerhead

  • kitchen sink aerator

  • bathroom sink aerator

  • foam pipe insulation for hot water pipes

We got two of everything so that we could also install them in our tenants apartment.

The showerheads look awesome. Lots of settings and all are only 4.7 litres per minute (1.25 gal per minute). This is way better than our existing "low-flow" showerhead which is 9.5 litres per minute (or 2.5 gal per minute)

As part of the riot I'm trying not to buy anything new but I figure new stuff that saves water is ok. Especially since the guy just showed up at my door - how perfect!

If you are interested in finding out more about the program, here's the info from the flyer (I couldn't find a web site).

1-877-save-gas

Captial Environmental Ltd
613-667-8561
tapsprogram@rushpost.com

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Dirt costs *how* much???

Went to Richie Feed and Seed today to get a quote on some soil. We are turning most of our backyard into a vegetable and fruit garden and our soil is a bit questionable (potential contamination) so we are creating some raised beds.

Turns out for the amount of soil we require it will cost us somewhere in the neighbourhood of $800.

I'm sorry? What? Run that by me again... Did you say $800????

<picks herself up off the floor>

Ok then.

I need to come up with a new plan.

I'm thinking of getting a truckload full of compost from the Trail Waste Facility. But I need more than just compost to make me some soil.

I better get investigating because my seedlings are ready to get planted.

Also I bought 3 new tomato plants at the organic farmers' market this morning. One is an heirloom variety called 'Brandywine' and the other two are a yellow cherry variety (not sure of the name) that I know is the most delicious I've ever had because I bought oodles of them last summer at the market.

Ooo and I had a look at my gooseberry plants this morning and they have gooseberries on them! Quite exciting as this is year one for them in the garden so I wasn't expecting them to fruit.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Been away


For various reasons, I decided to take a short break from posting. The biggest was starting a new job but I think almost as much was a desire to disconnect a bit (from the computer, from the dialogue....). I just needed a break.

But I'm back! Who knows, maybe its the sunshine or the fact that I'm already enjoying the herbs in my garden, or maybe its the sight of my lovely seedlings growing strong in my greenhouse, but I'm feeling a renewed energy.


While I've been away I fell off the Riot wagon a bit. I've been feeling the guilt associated with that and expressed to a friend how I didn't want to post about it. My great friend said essentially that "maybe falling off the wagon is terrible, maybe its not, but shouldn't we at least be able to talk about it?"

Fair point I thought.

So let's talk.....

Consumer spending was my biggest weak point. I came to realize that I live a pretty freakin' comfortable life. While in all other categories I'd say we were already below the average, on consumer spending I'd say we are quite a bit above. Which seems crazy as I hardly ever bought clothes, and I can't stand 'stuff' so avoided buying it whenever possible. But I am a home owner and even though we haven't put much money into our place, it doesn't take much before all of a sudden we've spent a lot. And this was my problem over the last few weeks. The first was the purchase of a new washing machine. Its a front loader and will replace our water-hog top loader. AND...we decided not to buy a dryer. How's that for a commitment? Also, we scored the washer at 50% off which really was an absurd deal. But the bad news is, that one purchase pretty much adds up to our 10% of consumer spending right there. We'd have to not buy one extra thing all year. And I'd actually attempt that, except our deck is falling down. It's a multi-story deck and its rotting away. At this point its downright dangerous. So it needs replacing. We'll use FSC certified wood of course, but the cost alone will basically put us at average household spending. Two items. Ok, two BIG items. But that's what I mean by living a privileged life.

So anyway, all that to say that I'm feeling bummed that I'm obviously not going to succeed in making any reductions from the average when it comes to consumer spending even though it feels like I'm doing a lot.

While I'm in a confessing sort of mood I may as well talk about food. Other than eating too much restaurant food (nothing new there), I'd been pretty good. Until this weekend. I was too sick to make it to the farmers' market on Saturday. So tonight I went to the herb and spice and bought some food. Some fresh, decidedly un-local food. I blame the sickness - my body wanted healthy and yummy food. So I bought some rice cakes, and some cilantro from the States and 2 apples from New Zealand, and some hazelnuts and papaya from god knows where. I'm sure I'll be feeling v. guilty later but for now that papaya is SO GOOD.
I did buy one local item - some fermented beets from quebec. Have been curious about fermentation as a method of food storage for sometime and I have to say, these beets are pretty tasty. Supposed to be quite healthy too.

Anyway, enough rambling. But before I go, I want to share this wonderful post from GreenPa. It made me smile. The wonders of water.